On Saturday November 15th we are inviting you to join Cornerstone Community in spending the day praying and fasting together. The church will be open from 9am-3pm if you would like to stop in to pray.
What is fasting?
The Bible gives examples of God’s people occasionally combining fasting (going without food) with their prayers so as to stir up their zeal and heighten their focus on God.
King David wrote that he “humbled himself with fasting” (Psalm 35:13). Fasting is a means of getting our minds back on the reality that we are not self-sufficient.
Fasting is a form of prayer, which is why it is so often mentioned along with prayer in Scripture. It is a non-verbal form of prayer that displays something that words cannot – humility.
Fasting is in some sense a way of letting God know (and reminding ourselves) that our hunger for Him is more important than even our hunger for food.
This does not mean that people who fast are ‘more spiritual’ but it somehow seems to intensify our spiritual hunger!
The Bible records many examples of men of faith such as Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Paul and Jesus Himself who fasted so that they might draw closer to God. (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Daniel 9:3; Daniel 10:2-3; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Matthew 4:2).
Interestingly, when Jesus was asked about fasting, he said that it was something that His followers would do once he had ascended to heaven. We are those followers! (Mark 2:18-20)
Poor reasons for fasting would include:
‘Hunger strike’ (To try and twist God’s arm to answer a prayer)
To have people feel sorry for us or to think we’re especially religious
In The Message Bible, Eugene Petersen paraphrases Jesus’ teaching on fasting in a brilliant way:
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
When we fast we understand that God looks at our motives and our hearts. This is not some kind of spiritual ‘Survivor’ challenge, but rather our attempt to draw near to Him, knowing that He draws near to us when we do so (James 4:8).
How to Fast
When we fast it is a good idea to devote the time that we would have spent eating in personal prayer.
As someone once said: Fasting without prayer is just a glorified diet!
We suggest you fast a meal, all three meals, or a 24 hour fast. We encourage you to pray about how you will approach this fast ahead of time.
If you are on medication or suffer from illness that requires you to have food or are a pregnant or a nursing mother it may be wiser to not do a complete fast and you may choose to choose to engage in a ‘partial’ fast e.g. eat only vegetables or ‘no treats’ or no dairy etc. (Partial fasting is mentioned in Daniel 10:3)
Ask the Lord if there is another way in which you can fast. Maybe fast from social media or television and use that time to pray and read scripture.
Here are some other practical tips about fasting:
- Start slow. If you’ve never fasted before, begin with just one meal.
- Continue to drink water to stay hydrated. While some individuals in the Bible fasted from both food and water, this choice can be dangerous if you’re not experienced with fasting or haven’t consulted a medical professional.
- If you’re accustomed to drinking caffeine, don’t stop suddenly. Decrease your intake for a few days before you fast or you may suffer headaches.
- Don’t overeat before or after your fast. Eat smaller, healthier meals, including raw foods before and after.
- Tell only people that you must, but try to be considerate of others in your schedule if you fast.
- Make a firm, prayerful commitment before you begin that you can remember while you’re fasting. Your commitment to fast is between you and God, so be sure to make a sincere, whole hearted commitment.
- Consciously reflect on scripture and your experience. Your physical response will often reveal spiritual truths.